I have a theoretical doubt and wondering someone knowledgeable may be able to answer. I have read in many places that prana/virya once lost can never be regained by taking good food. It is also said “maranam bindu patanat”. So far, it is not clear to me what exactly prana is. I know that there are foods rich in prana, and even things like cold water, that are rich in prana. Similarly, virya, although the last formed dhatu, will continue to form (either in subtle form or if one has not yet managed to sublimate, in subtle as well as gross forms). Why then is it said that loss of prana or virya brings one closer to death? I understand certain amount of prana is dissipated everytime one loses virya. Is the amount of prana/virya fixed for a person? Is prana just one of the five vayus? If so, why is it fixed? Then what exactly does pranayama accomplish?
Prana, Virya (semen) and Vayu are different things and indirectly related.
Prana is a life force which science is still not able to figure out because no such instrument has been designed which can track those subtleties but in future it will be possible one day. Your life span is controlled by prana and your soul is connected to your physical body by means of prana.
It is just like dynamo that gives electricity to appliances.
Prana is unstable entity and by means of pranayama you can confined it to different energy storage location in your body. For example your location of center of gravity is one of such locations. Chakras are other locations. That’s why once you leak prana it goes waste like heat (flame) energy.
Pranayama regulates and minimizes leakages of prana.
Vayu along with prana is inhaled by everyone but it happens naturally. But person who knows or practices pranayama not only becomes efficient in terms of inhaling good amount of air but also inhaling good amount of prana too.
Vayu helps your physical body to function and prana helps your subtle body to work.
You can live without vayu for minutes or hours or days (sages used to do) but your can not live even for a second without prana.
Virya discharge is one of the ways of prana leakage. You can use it for production or you can use it for transformation.
Pranayama prevents this leakage to use for transformation.
But this does not mean you can not indulge in sex. It is all about how you use it and with how much awareness.
You can use heat energy to cook food also and to burn food also. Pranayama is regulator.
Thanks for your reply and a little more insight into this subject matter. But your reply still does not answer my original question of why loss of prana/virya can never be regained by any amount of intake of anything useful and brings one closer to death. Is the amount fixed for a person? Then what impact do various products rich in prana have on you when you consume them? For instance, Swami Sivananda in his book on the practice of Brahmacharya writes “Mark carefully the evil after-effects that follow the loss of seminal energy! Persons are physically, mentally and morally debilitated by wasting the seminal power on so many occasions for nothing. The body and the mind refuse to work energetically. There is physical and mental lethargy. You experience much exhaustion and weakness. You will have to take recourse to drinking milk, to eating fruits and aphrodisiac confections, to make good the loss of energy. Remember that these things can never, never repair the loss completely. Once lost is lost forever. You will have to drag on a dreary, cheerless existence. Bodily and mental strength gets diminished day by day.” He writes later again, When this energy is once wasted, it can never be recouped by any other means. And, yoga sastras clearly say “maranam bindhu patanat, jivanam bindu rakshanat” - “falling of semen brings death, preservation brings life.” More importantly, why is this loss permanent?
Energy does not come back for two reasons:
Energy that is lost through leakages (stress, sex, etc…) is already utilized for other energy transformation so that part you can not get back.
When person is born a fixed energy is already there. This prana can be increased by means of yogic practices and diet the way we build muscles later.
But nature also has its own law that no matter how much you practice yoga or eat sattvic food, still body is going to drain prana as you age.
Transformation or energy activation or enlightenment needs good storage of prana inside body to be raised upward towards higher chakras. So sooner you are successful in storing that energy in your life , the better it is. A person who is already old and if he starts this process then it already very late for many physiological conditions.
As we age, our body and mind both start leaking more and more prana because it is natural process. That is the reason many sages have taken Samadhi at early age of their lives.
In short, as you age, your draining of prana is higher than storing, just like your muscle or cell generation and decay.
Thank you so much!! That is very helpful and I am now clearer!! For further clarity, I have some follow-up questions if you wouldn’t mind answering. When you say “raised upward towards higher chakras”, are you referring to performance of yoga asanas such as sirshasana, sarvangasana, padangushtasana, etc and pranayama such as kapala bhati, nadi shodhana, tribandha, ujjayi, etc? When you say storing what exactly does that mean? Should we be careful about not dissipating at all? But our daily activities in mainstream life are going to inevitably lead to loss of energy in some form. Should a practising yogi eat less or eat more? Are there specific steps one can take to conserve prana and/or keep on increasing it at least until middle-age? Also, you said, “energy activation or enlightenment needs good storage of prana”. Why? How much? How long does it take to get there? What specific asanas/pranayama should one do for this? I would be grateful if you could elaborate more on this.
Your queries are natural.
We can not quantify subtle things of life nor we can apply 2 + 2 = 4 formula to them.
We can not get answer if we ask home much love is required to love anyone? People don’t see success in yoga, especially in meditation just because of this expectation.
To raise prana or to store it, there is no fixed formula nor you can set any timeline. There is no instrument that can tell you home much you are near to your experience of transformation.
Yes inversion postures do help but it is not end. You have to focus on 3 things
- Yoga practice
- Lifestyle changes
But our daily activities in mainstream life are going to inevitably lead to loss of energy in some form
Nature does not care about mainstream life. What you need is detachment from everything so that you can see inward.
Should a practising yogi eat less or eat more?
Moderation is key. More or less shows mental craving to expect result.
Are there specific steps one can take to conserve prana and/or keep on increasing it at least until middle-age?
3 things mentioned above with total detachment and no expectation of result at all. You need to just keep moving as if you will never see result but still you are doing because you love doing it.
energy activation or enlightenment needs good storage of prana". Why? How much?
Concentrated energy is more powerful than scattered. That is why Laser beam is more powerful than other light sources. Raising prana need escape velocity in terms of concentrated prana.
Again how much is absurd question because you can not measure or know how much more is required. You just keep on practicing as if you are storing and when right time comes, you know automatically.
How long does it take to get there?
As I said whenever question of how much and when comes to your mind just remember my example of love (“how much love is required to love anyone or when I will be ready to love anyone”)
When you are ready, you know automatically. Your job is to practice and not to set expectations and timelines. Nature has not given those rights to anyone.
What specific asanas/pranayama should one do for this?
Introversion postures are useful but practice others too. Pranayam works wonder in cleansing of energy channels (nadis) so pranayamas are must.
Thank you so much for all your answers, Sir!!
You have already have great explanations from Sri.Umesh. Prana relates to life. If anyone lose Prana, he will face death. That's what our scriptures say. It is not that lost prana cannot be regained. By Pranayama, you learn to do that. One who learn to conserve Prana through Pranayama, never lose that in any form. Scriptures warn only those who are losing Prana without conserving. We could not quantify the Prana, to fix minimum level or critical level. The general idea is: losing bindu takes away huge amount of Prana, hence conserve bindu. Conserving or minimum use of bindu is advocated by Scriptures.